Over 140 people gave over 1600 hours of their time to volunteer on the £400K Sparkling Streams Partnership Project which comes to an end on 31st March 2022.

Funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, this hugely successful project has taken a catchment approach to improve the River Kennet, Shalbourne and Dun tributaries and their associated river and wetland habitats, increasing opportunities for wildlife to flourish and connecting people with nature.

The project has been a partnership between the North Wessex Downs AONB, The Town & Manor of Hungerford, Action for the River Kennet (ARK) and the Southern Streams Farmers Group. It ran from January 2021 and delivered work ranging from large-scale river restoration on the River Kennet at Eddington to a wealth of small-scale works along the Dun and Shalbourne tributaries, engaging farmers, local communities, and school children.

Corporate volunteers

Corporate volunteers working in the river. Image credit: ARK

Highlights of the project include:

  • 1,100 metres of new or enhanced chalk stream and a fish pass created at Eddington Mill
  • 3,000 metres of enhanced in-river and riparian habitat work carried out on eight sites of the Dun and Shalbourne tributaries
  • 1,000 metres of hedge (5,025 hedge plants) and 3,400 trees planted on six sites
  • a rain garden created at Shalbourne Primary School.

The Sparkling Streams Project leaves a range of nature recovery and nature-based solutions that will continue to help increase chalk stream water flows, improve water quality, fish passage and migration, reduce soil erosion, increase biodiversity in the rivers and mitigate against climate change.

By connecting people with nature through volunteer events and activities the Sparkling Streams Project leaves a legacy of happier, healthier adults and children who understand and care for chalk streams and their wildlife as well as more farmers who are encouraged to minimise soil erosion and enriching nutrients from reaching the chalk streams.

Corinna Woodall, the AONB’s nature recovery lead who spearheaded the funding bid, said:

“We are so proud of what the project has achieved and the role that the AONB has taken in helping to bring our partners together to secure the funding for a coherent group of river restoration and natural flood management actions. These will really make a difference to the water quality of the rivers and our wildlife living in and around them. Now this project is coming to an end we are spurred on to find further funding and to replicate this model for other chalk streams in our protected landscape.”

Volunteers working on habitat at Standen Manor. Image credit: ARK

Green Recovery Challenge Fund logo

This project was funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm’s-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.